The HAKA and MANA - What happens in Vegas..
“If you’re going through hell, keep going”
The Rugby World Cup is here. Along with it the social issues that arrive
with any great sporting event: violence toward women and children -
which is already a major problem in New Zealand. However NZ has another
unique issue, which is the place and purpose of the haka and mana. The
following article questions the role of the haka: does it cause violence
in NZ society?
There will follow more on this subject in regard to women in The
Structure of Energy Healing Newsletter October/November 2011, where
there will also be free copies of the Introduction and Chapter One of my
Love and peace
Go to www.kayurlich.com for more articles and Newsletters
The HAKA and MANA - What happens in Vegas … By Kay Urlich
One of the biggest problems for people when merging paradigms; whether
they are sports, work or relationships, is to strike the right balance
between the heart, the mind and the soul. When is it time to be active
and competitive, and when is it time to be nurturing and compassionate?
Change Can Be Confusing
Despite the difficulties, many women have integrated well into a male
dominated workforce by incorporating male traits of action and
competition. Men too, are expressing their feminine characteristics. We
hear a lot about the changing attitudes of society, about GenY from
American data, who seem to have it all together. But how are young kiwi
males really doing, merging their capacity for nurturing and compassion
with their strong, staunch, tough aspects?
In many cases, instead of men and women fusing their skills together,
they simply become confused together, as their original core values
become lost in the merging arrangement where, as one person takes on
another’s core values, they lose some vital spiritual essence of their
The Same Confusions Occur Within Whole Societies.
For instance when Maori and European peoples merged, what did each
culture take from the other, and what of great value did they leave
Take the mana of the haka for example. The nearest word to mana in
English is charisma, but mana is deeper and greater than that. It
encompasses the spiritual, and is something that can only be earned over
time and through the individual demonstrating he / she is of exemplary
character in all respects. The mana of the haka is in the expression of
integrity, prestige and strength being projected by the participants to
the recipients. (All haka are performed with specific intent.) Whether
it is a war haka, a challenge on the sports field, or any other, the
haka is intended to show the audience that the group performing in front
of them is proud and does not compromise on its principles.
With the arrival of Captain Cook to Aotearoa (NZ) came the merging of
two warring cultures: The newcomers liked the haka so much that it
blended easily into the developing nation, moreover, it has become a
symbol of NZ maleness; the energy of the haka now pervades our homes: it
has burned so much into our psyche that it is part of being a New
Squeezing The Life-Force
Wira Gardiner in 'Haka'. published Hodder Moa Beckett 2001 says:
The haka has always been a vital part of Maori culture and tradition.
Today it has a growing influence on the lives of all New Zealanders. it
provides a powerful and dramatic vehicle for welcoming visitors, for
challenging opponents, for rejoicing in victories, for protesting
injustices, and for celebrating culture and way of life. The word haka
is defined in 'A Dictionary of the Maori Language' (HW Williams)
as ‘a dance’. Another meaning given is: ‘song, accompanying a dance’.
Both these definitions have seemingly squeezed the mauri or life-force
from the vigorous actions and style of haka we have come to know.
However they are the correct terms to describe the many types of songs
and dances from pre- European times. When asked to define the haka, most
people will identify it as a war dance. This is an erroneous
description, but is an understandable one given that most contemporary
non-Maori have in their minds a picture of the haka Ka mate! performed
by the All Blacks and other sports teams, with its accompanying air of
In pre-European early contact times the haka was used as a part of the
formal process when two parties came together. Even when the purpose of
the meeting was purportedly a peaceful one it was still necessary to
remain on guard in case either party decided to use the opportunity to
take advantage of the lack of preparedness of the other to attack and
kill. Maori traditional history is redolent with examples of meetings
with ‘peaceful’ intent being turned into violent attack. (More
about women’s role in performing haka in the October/ November 2011,
Structure of Energy Healing Newsletter)
Going For The Jugular
Take these headlines from an article in the NZ Herald August 2011, just
prior to the Rugby World Cup - ‘Fierce All Blacks go for the jugular
The All Blacks’ pre-match “throat slitting” gesture may be making a
comeback for the Rugby World Cup… the final act of the alternative haka
Kapa o Pango, an aggressive drawing of the thumb across the neck, was
toned down after complaints from the public and opposing sides. But
before Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup match several players, including haka
leader Piri Weepu, appeared to have reverted to the original gesture… It
did not go unnoticed and many Australian newspapers referred to its
chilling effect… Kapo o Pango composer, Gisborne artist Derek Lardelli,
has defended the haka’s conclusion. He said it was a symbol not of
violence but of the cutting edge of sport… The New Zealand Rugby Union’s
(NZRU) review concluded that the gesture had a radically different
meaning in Maori culture and within the haka tradition. It was believed
to represent “hauora”, the breathing of life into the heart and lungs.
In fact many people don’t even know about hauora; the
breathing of life into the heart and lungs, or mauri; the sacred
heart that cannot be trampled on, especially young men, who when
stretching into adulthood want to look tough around their peers - to
gain mana - like their heroes the All Blacks, who gain mana for their
Pumped up with testosterone and confused about manhood, young men
seduced by the mana of the All Blacks leave the game and go home, filled
with mixed messages.
An Avoidable Tragedy
With no distinctions made about aggression in sport, hauora or mauri,
they see only its violence which is often re-enacted (especially if
their team loses), upon their family, their mother or father, their
wife, or the little child that’s now disturbing their peace.
In the report (Printed in NZCPR Weekly) blog, titled An Avoidable
Tragedy. Coroner Wallace Bain called the death (murder) of three
year old Nia Glassie chilling…he explained that NZ has a huge child
abuse problem, one of the very worst records in the Western World, but
that successive governments have failed to improve the situation as
these horrific cases just keep on coming…
Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, former head of The Women’s Refuge, provides
insight as to why this may be so. She explains how Maori women allow
freeloaders in the guise of men unable or unwilling to work to live with
them. The home becomes a danger zone and as these men have no biological
ties with the children, they can be cruel and abusive. They are usually
low skilled and of low intelligence and have criminal records, along
with low self-esteem, and often have other children to other women. She
said young Maori women seemed incapable of seeing these men for what
they are (more about men, women and the DPB (Domestic Purpose
Benefit) in The Structure of Energy Healing Newsletter October/November
issue). She also commented that in spite of the rhetoric about
loving their children, Maori – especially Maori leadership undervalue
Spare The Rod
Rugby and the haka are not the cause of domestic abuse or the battering
of babies, but young men who confuse toughness with mana contribute
greatly to NZ’s record of violence toward women and children.
Before the arrival of Europeans, Maori never hit or humiliated their
children. When Europeans arrived and watched little children running
freely, they were shocked. ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’, was
Then, Indigenous Maori became confused, and they blended violence toward
children easily into the developing nation, moreover, it has become a
symbol of parental duty; the energy of violence now pervades many homes,
it has burned so much into our psyche that it is part of being a New
The energy of the haka and the message of violence toward children has
stood the test of time in our multi cultural experience, when recently
88% (out of 54% of New Zealanders voted to repeal the anti smacking
legislation), voted for their ‘right’ to hit their children.
Whether it is a smack or a beating, there is little difference to the
heart and soul of a small child: to affect the sacred heart that should
not be trampled on, or the breathing of life into the heart and lungs.
Love And Violence: It's For Your Own Good
What do these mixed messages of love mean to a little child? How is it
that if somebody, especially somebody who has power over you, whom you
love and trust most of all in the world, had the right to beat you -
even a little slap (as was once allowed toward women) just a little slap
– ‘that is for your own good’.
Deep in their heart children know that violence toward them is not okay,
and any mother knows in her heart that little boys are soft and gentle,
just like little girls.
Children need to know unequivocally that being soft and tender like a
girl is okay, and being with a girl is okay too; that gaining mana is
more than winning at all cost in sports, or relationships: That mana is
both soft and strong in its own place.
But how do you choose to be soft when a culture of violence is all you
know? And how could you know, when told for a lifetime that love
What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas
Until a whole society recognizes the power of gentleness, young men and
women will continue to be confused as they act out a cultural
aberration: one that has poisoned generations of children before them
who also saw the violence they enacted upon others, as part of their own
Meanwhile, as jails fill up, and youth suicides increase, more and more
young people grow confused as they become entrenched in a lingering
Perhaps it’s time to look to those who went before, where Maori
understood, rightly or wrongly, that domination on the battle field was
fought for brutally by warrior equals, who understood clearly and
absolutely that only its heart and soul, its mauri and hauora,
would come home.
Battle over: then warriors with mana left their violence on the field -
what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
More about these issues in The Structure of Energy Healing
October/November 2011Newsletter, where I will be introducing book three
with: Introduction and Chapter One free.